Call to ensure single women’s rights

Kathmandu, December 4:

South Asian Network for Widows’ Empowerment in Development (SANWED) organised a conference here today, deliberating on the Widows’ Charter and making efforts to ensure rights for single women.

“Almost all single women are suffering from psychological trauma, which is fuelled by misplaced cultural practices,” said Lily Thapa, SANWED Chairperson. She added that the network had collected data from 47 districts, registering up to 14,000 young widows.

According to their statistics, 40 per cent of the single women were married before they were 20, 67 per cent are in the 20-30 years age group. while 29 per cent are illiterate.

Thapa added that single women faced increased work load, exploitation, domestic violence and a sense of loneliness and insecurity. She asked the government to eliminate the discrimination, conduct a demographical survey and formulate policies and laws to alleviate their isolation and poverty.

SANWED coordinator Sadhana Shrestha said more than 50 per cent single women in South Asia were prone to sexual harassment, owing to their young age.

She said despite the government ratifying international conventions, the status of widows continued to be ignored, adding that legal reforms had failed to address injustice since widows’ lives were often determined by arbitrary interpretations of religious and customary practices.

The charter was drafted by the technical committee of 2008 SAARC Summit, to be ratified by the 2010 summit in Maldives.

Ritu Raj Bhandari

of Ministry of Women, Children and Social

Welfare said the government was committed

to ensuring single women’s rights. Coordinator Shrestha pledged to empower widows to let them live a dignified life.